By Amanda Litvinov / photo by JBYoder
The Education Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the controversial policy group that provides corporations and hyper-conservative “think tanks” with access to lawmakers, met in Charlotte, N.C., last week to hammer out model legislation that the lawmaker members will introduce in their home states.
The real goal of those model bills, cloaked in unfounded claims about expanding opportunities for students, is to gut the public school system that working families rely on and divert public dollars to for-profit education entities, like those whose execs sit on the task force (read more about ALEC’s anti-public education agenda here).
ALEC uses a “whack-a-mole” metaphor to describe its legislative strategy and urge its members to introduce anti-public education legislation simultaneously in an effort to overwhelm unions and other pro-public education groups. If all the moles come up at once, the theory goes, there’s no way one mallet can get them all.
If we’re to beat ALEC at its own game, we’re gonna need more mallets. And that’s where EdVotes readers and all public school advocates can help. The Center for Media and Democracy has identified three great ways you can help expose how ALEC has influence in your state (get a detailed how-to here). In short:
- Find out whether your elected officials are ALEC members, and if so, demand that they withdraw. Remember that without access to lawmakers, the corporate members who fund the conservative bill mill will bail.
- Find out who ALEC’s corporate partners are in your state, and demand that they withdraw from the group.
- File an open records request to determine whether your taxpayer money is used to support ALEC. If so, spread the news as far and wide as possible, through your social networks and the ALECExposed community.
Now for some inspiration: As promised in our headline, here are the top 4 reasons why educators and pro-public education advocates should get in the game:
- ALEC puts the profits of corporations before the welfare of students. Virtual schools and for-profit charters do NOT do all that a neighborhood school can do—so why does its Virtual Public Schools Act insist those corporate ventures should receive the same public funding?
- ALEC thinks its corporate members know better than your community how to run your schools. A common theme throughout ALEC education bills is to reduce local control of parents and democratically elected school boards.
- ALEC would have you giving more standardized tests. When they say they want to” apply marketplace standards” to education, they mean they want to increase the reliance on standardized testing to judge student and teacher performance.
- ALEC thinks corporations deserve “a voice and a vote” (their words) more than U.S. citizens do! Although it has disbanded its highly controversial Public Safety and Elections Task Force, the damage has been done: an estimated 5 million eligible voters will have a more difficult time exercising their right to vote in the 2012 election.
You can help keep ALEC’s corrupting influence out of our statehouses and out of our schools. “Like” this article to inspire other public education advocates in your social network, and sign up for our weekly EdVotes email.